So here it is, my much promised post about Saskia. Looking back the last time I wrote a Saskia post was in May – that time seems to have gone so quickly, and she has changed so much [insert other typical parent clichés here as you please].
Last time I wrote she had just cracked the art of crawling. Well she has now progressed to almost walking, via ‘bear walking’ (on hands and feet) and ‘cruising’ (standing upright but supporting herself against people, furniture, etc). Cruising was followed by unaided standing, and in the last week or so this has progressed to her first tentative steps. She is still a bit unstable with the walking, so crawling, bear walking and cruising are still the primary modes of travel – but she is getting more confident each day.
Being able to stand has brought a whole new realm of the house within her reach – bottom shelves, low tables, CD racks, etc. Posting things through the cat flap seems to be a favoured activity – usually potatoes and shoes. As you can see from the photo below, she also takes particular delight in removing my CDs from their nicely alphabetised by artist, and chronologically within artist, filing system (I am a fun person to be around, honest).
So we have had to do some child-proofing of the house – this has ranged from the traditional (stair gates) to the improvised (a wooden board strapped to the front one of my CD racks with car roofrack straps – it might not be pretty, but it certainly is effective!).
That’s actually Marilyn Manson she is reaching for in the picture above – showing early signs of inheriting her Daddy’s good taste (must keep her away from Mummy’s horrendous Adele and Amy Winehouse CDs in case she gets indoctrinated into the world of rubbish music).
On the subject of music, she has begun to show off her dancing skills. She has a little ride-on car, which plays various tunes when you press the buttons on the dashboard (kiddy tunes, not Marilyn Manson). She likes to stand next to the car, press one of the buttons to start a tune, and then ‘dance’ next to it. Her dancing mainly involves shaking her hips back and forth, and smiling gleefully at anyone nearby.
It’s very cute to watch, and fascinating that she seems to have this inbuilt desire to dance when she hears music. As far as we can tell she’s not learnt this from anyone else (her Daddy isn’t much of a dancer, and we haven’t taken her clubbing yet), which suggests it’s an innate characteristic present from birth. Interesting, in terms of nature and nurture.
Moving on, she has also become a regular at the local play park – we’re very lucky to have the recreation ground right behind our house, so there are plenty of opportunities for park trips. She is a brave little thing, and will go off of her own accord, crawling or cruising round the park, interacting with the various park ‘furniture’, and watching the other children. Whilst still a bit small for most of the activities, she particularly enjoys the swings and the slide.
We recently had an afternoon out at Whitstable Castle, which has a great play park – including a ‘big’ slide which she very much enjoyed throwing herself down. Sally would sit her at the top and she soon got the idea of shuffling herself off to launch her descent – while I knelt at the bottom, repeatedly messing up trying to focus the camera on a fast moving baby (you can see my best effort below).
She has also recently started using her first word – that being ‘uh-oh’. This seems to translate into grown up as ‘oh dear, I appear to have dropped s0mething’, as an item of food or her water bottle goes over the side of the high chair. When at her very cutest she says it with pursed lips, while looking back and forth between you and the dropped item.
However, ‘uh-oh’ seems to be a very versatile phrase, able to be used preemptively as well as after the event – translated into grown up as ‘oh dear, I am about to drop something’. It’s highly amusing to watch her look at you, say ‘uh-oh’, drop something, then look at you as if it were an accident. She’s going to need to work on her timing a bit if she expects us to believe it was unintentional!
She still goes swimming, although we take her to the local pool these days for ‘freestyle’ swimming, rather than the structured class at Whitstable that we used to go to. We found that she wasn’t really enjoying the Whitstable class – it consisted of a number of activities, two of which involved being dunked under the water, which always seemed to upset her. I understand the logic behind getting the babies acclimatised to water, but I’m not sure they need to be dunked under at six months old to achieve that. I have always been confident in the pool or the sea, but wasn’t dunked under the water as a baby (back in my day… grumble, moan, grumble, etc).
Eventually, as she got more aware, she seemed to enjoy the whole class less and less. So we decided to just take her to our local pool instead, and she seems to have a much better time. She is able to do things at her own pace, seems much more confident, and enjoys it a lot more.
She has been busy growing teeth over the last few months – now sporting six fine examples of… ermmm… teeth. So as not to spoil her good looks she has so far managed to grow her teeth entirely symmetrically – she has the middle two at the bottom, and the middle four up top.
As of a couple of months ago she has also been attending nursery. She started going one day a week, but we recently changed this to two half days. There were some settling in issues initially, but these seem to have been overcome in the last few weeks – the switch to half days has possibly helped with this. She now seems to really enjoy her nursery days, and is bonding well with the nursery staff and other babies.
Sally has become mildly obsessed with vicariously trying to live her own dreams of becoming an artist through Saskia, buying her pencils, felt-tips, paints, and play-doh. Progress has been somewhat limited, with Saskia yet to fully appreciate the difference between the two ends of a pencil / felt tip. Her best work so far has either been on her own face, tongue and clothing, or on the spare bedroom wall.
Some of the observant amongst you might have noticed that she has short hair in some of her photos. Unfortunately we recently had to cut all her hair off, as she had developed a habit of pulling her own hair out and eating it. It actually started with the cat’s hair, then Daddy’s chest hair, and a fluffy cushion, before moving on to her own hair. Before long she had plucked the top of her head to the point of almost being completely bald.
We really didn’t want to cut off her lovely blonde curls, so tried everything else we could think of; hats (which she took off); swim caps (which she also took off); a stern ‘no’ (which was either too late or ignored); giving her other things to divert her attention (which she ignored or lost interest in).
So eventually we admitted defeat, and decided that the only way to break the habit was to cut her hair off. So far she seems to have stopped reaching for her own head – but will still go for the cat, cushion, or Mummy and Daddy’s chest or arm hair (for clarification, ‘chest hair’ refers to Ben only, not Sally). I guess we will keep her hair short for a while, until we think the habit is broken.
As it is we have got used to her without her hair, and still think she looks gorgeous (but we’re her parents, we would think that!). You can make your minds up from the photo below.
Finally, saving the most important news until last, I would like to congratulate Saskia on completing her first full orbit of the sun – or in other words, becoming one year old on 26th August! She had a great day on her birthday, with a meal / little party with family at our local pub, followed by a trip to the park to show off her swing and slide skills. She was on top form all day, and really seemed to have a ball, which was great to see. She particularly enjoyed playing with her older cousins, Molly and Robin.
I have included a few photos from her special day below…
… enjoying her birthday lunch at The Phoenix pub…
… time to unwrap some presents…
… blowing out the candle on her birthday cake…
… with cousins Molly and Robin (and an attention seeking fluffy dog)…
… more present unwrapping back at home…
… and finally, playing with her birthday balloon.